Software engineers and product designers at the New York Times voted overwhelmingly to unionize, creating a big tech workers’ union in the official newspaper and extending workers’ winning streak in the media.
A vote tally by the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday showed 404 workers in favor of forming a union while 88 opposed it. The count must still be certified by the labor commission to become official.
Members of the union campaign took Twitter after the vote count and called it a “historic victory,” saying they “stand in solidarity with all workers organizing to create better workplaces in the technology and media industries.”
Employees will be represented by the NewsGuild-CWA, the same union that includes reporters, editors and other reporters in the New York Times newsroom.
Even though the Times newsroom has been unionized for a good part of a century, the company resisted a union for workers on the technology side of the company. Management argued that a union would disrupt the work of the company and urged employees voting “no”, calling it “an unproven experiment with permanent consequences”, according to the Guardian.
As a liberal newspaper, The Times has been criticized for refusing to voluntarily recognize the union after a majority of workers said they wanted to form one, opting instead to force an NLRB-supervised vote. The company sought to have the election stopped through the labor board, arguing that the proposed bargaining unit was not appropriate. The newspaper’s efforts failed.
“The Times’ resistance to the campaign underscored an age-old position of tech employers: that a union is okay for some workers, but not for those in tech.”
The union eventually filed unfair labor practice charges against the company, accusing management of interfering with the organizing drive and trying to silence workers who supported it. The company denied the allegations, but labor commission officials found them merit.
Given its long history as a unionized company, the Times’ resistance to the campaign underscored a secular position tech employers: that a union might make sense for some workers, but not for tech workers, who are somehow unique and should not bargain collectively.
Despite such attitudes, the tech industry has seen a number of high-profile organizing efforts in recent years, including the Alphabet Workers Union at Google in Silicon Valley.
The NewsGuild said the new unionized group at The Times, numbering around 600, appears to be the largest bargaining unit for tech workers in the country.
Thursday’s election victory will add more members to a union that has expanded its footprint at The Times. Workers at the newspaper’s product review site, Wirecutter, unionized in 2019. They entered into a first contract with the company late last year after go on strike over the Thanksgiving weekend.